Shirley Gutkowski, Dent Hy ’99
Shirley Gutkowski’s commitment to oral health led to leave her clinical practice and seek a wider audience. In 2003, she founded Cross Link Presentations, and a new career in consulting, writing and speaking was born.
The immediate past president of the Wisconsin Dental Hygienists' Association, Gutkowski became nationally known in the dental community through her monthly column "Thinking Sharply,” which appeared in RDH, the most widely read dental hygiene magazine. Her current column, “Connectivity,” appears in the peer-reviewed Contemporary Oral Hygiene.
She and co-author Amy Nieves wrote The Purple Guide: Developing Your Clinical Dental Hygiene Career and are working on a second edition. It is the first book to help new hygienists make the transition from school to the workplace. In 2003, Gutkowski won the APEX award for her series of articles on dental care in Diabetes Self-Management magazine.
It’s not the typical career path of a dental hygienist. “My career path changes nearly every day,” she says. “In the past year I’ve become involved in an educational effort called CareerFusion, a major mentoring effort. Many dental hygienists have become aware that the world outside of the oral cavity holds creativity, excitement and income. The path to those new worlds is unknown to them. CareerFusion has filled the niche by teaching computer skills, showing them writing avenues as well as speaking and presentation techniques and avenues.”
As president of the Wisconsin Dental Hygienists’ Association, Shirley donated time doing oral evaluations at a family health center in Madison, Wis., and traveled across the United States, Germany and Switzerland to teach all-day courses. She also developed two separate research protocols addressing the oral health of dependent adults and the effect of ergonomics and pain on dental clinicians.
For Shirley, work doesn’t really feel like work. “It’s been a lot of fun, and bringing these new ideas to the world is fulfilling in a way that I feared wouldn’t be possible in my life.”
Her alma mater put her on the right path. “Marquette showed me the world of Yes,” she says. “Marquette taught me possibilities are endless, anything can work if you open your mind and your heart.”